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Jail for 50-year career criminal Simon Berkowitz
10:44am Friday 8th June 2012 in New Forest
ONE of Britain’s most prolific burglars, whose previous crimes led to the exposure of Paddy Ashdown’s affair with his secretary, has now been jailed for his latest break-ins in Hampshire.
Simon Berkowitz, 65, stood in the Winchester Crown Court dock to admit five burglaries, one count of going equipped to burgle and two counts of fraud in the New Forest area that netted more than £30,000.
He is thought to be one of Britain’s most prolific thieves with more than 250 convictions for burglary and theft spanning more than 50 years.
But it was the Paddy Ashdown court case in August 1992 for which Berkowitz was most infamous.
He was found not guilty at the Old Bailey of burgling the City of London offices of solicitors Bates, Wells and Braithwaite, where an aide memoire detailing Liberal leader Mr Ashdown’s affair with former secretary Patricia Howard was stolen.
Berkowitz, at the time a Conservative Party member, tried to sell the document to the News Of The World for £30,000 and during his trial said a Labour Party supporter gave it to him. He was convicted of handling stolen goods and jailed for 30 months.
The scandal earned Mr Ashdown the nickname Paddy Pantsdown.
It was “eagle-eyed” policeman PC Dean Miller who brought Berkowitz’s latest crime spree to an end when he saw him in Milford on Sea carrying a holdall. He had been sent on plain clothed patrol in December last year after the area’s burglary rate soared.
In the holdall they found two crowbars, a blow torch and a magnifying glass to examine the jewellery and silverware Berkowitz liked to steal. Property from three of the burglaries was found at his flat in Hove.
In mitigation, the court heard Berkowitz got “a buzz” from burglaries and was obsessed with silverware and jewellery.
Jailing him for f ive-and-a-half years, Judge Jane Miller QC said: “The public needs the maximum amount of protection from you that I can possibly justify.”